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Policing in chaos - Government agencies operating in silos, says security expert

Published:Monday | March 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Lieutenant Commander George Overton (right), director of operations at Guardsman Group and former president of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security, addresses a Jamaica Under Labour Stakeholder Forum as security expert Robert Finzi-Smith looks on.

Security expert, retired Lieutenant Commander George Overton, says the lack of a streamlined government communication apparatus is at the root of much of Jamaica's crime and social problems, as it allows criminals the space to retool and reorient their organisation in their effort to remain a step ahead of law enforcement.

"Urgency is of importance, but when you look at what is needed in fighting crime and violence in Jamaica, to restore law and order, it's the lack of what I call a 'joined-up Government' that is at the root of much our problems," said Overton.

"The Government was elected into power with the realisation that crime, violence and disorder in our society were some of the major issues that faced them because it was part of the discussion on the campaign trail," he continued.

He said, therefore, that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) would have reasonably expected that they entered the seat of Government with a plan in hand as to how they were going to tackle this situation.

The former army man reasoned that although legislative steps have been taken and posts created to address the problem since Andrew Holness led the JLP to a narrow victory at the polls, more is needed to assuage Jamaicans that the Government has a workable plan of action in relation to the burgeoning crime situation.


"I do not feel the urgency or the pace that is necessary (of the Government's attempt at reining in crime and violence)," Overton said during a recent Jamaica Under Labour Stakeholder Forum, hosted recently at The Gleaner's North Street, Kingston offices.

"Time waits on no man, and as we take time to develop and be deliberate on things going forward, so are the criminal organisations retooling, reorienting and changing their tact, as they understand where we are going as the law-abiding part of society," he said.

Overton said that the practice of issuing licences for vending in already-crowded spaces and providing licences for more taxis in the already-saturated sector, which, he insists only lends itself to chaos and disorder, are a prerequisite for criminal activities.

"We are issuing vending licences in spaces that cannot accommodate. Where is the communication between national security, local government and all of the other agencies? Where is joined-up Government?"

He added: "We have these silos that do not talk to each other and that has got to change quickly."